Are you sick of it yet? I am. As a bible teacher, writer, and former preacher there are a few topics I have purposefully stayed away from. Politics is one of them. However, given the whirlwind of hurricane activity in connection to this year’s election I felt that for the first time in over 23 years I needed to say something.
This is not going to be the usual article taking a pro or con position for either candidate. I’m not going to slam one and praise the other. I’m not going to bring up hot button topics and the views either candidate has on those topics. But I do feel I need to speak out on a particular issue in regards to voting. I will however, at this moment give a brief summary of what I’m hearing from both candidates so far. Donald Trump: “Blah, blah, blah.” And Hillary Clinton: “Blah, blah and more blah.”
When the field was “officially” boiled down to these two candidates the accusations and blubbering from their supporters began immediately. To those who said they would not vote for either candidate the replies were as predictable as they are whenever this claim is made during an election season. “A vote not cast for Trump is a vote for Clinton,” “a vote not cast for Clinton is a vote for Trump,” “if you don’t vote at all it’s a vote for (select Trump or Clinton and insert here),” or “if you vote for a third party candidate it’s the same as voting for (select Trump or Clinton and insert here…again).” This is simply not true. Below I want to address some reasons why this is not true so you don’t need to give into this form of manipulation. That’s all it is, manipulation to get you feeling guilty.
First: The seemingly most obvious reason is that a vote for Hillary is clearly a vote for Hillary and not voting for her is one less vote than she would have gotten if you had voted for her (and vice versa with Trump). Although this is a truth which seems so elementary, those who make these types of accusations don’t seem to understand this. My initial reaction to this is, “Oh so in that case you would be just as okay with me voting for Hillary [or Trump] as you would with me voting third party or just abstaining?”* Of course they respond with an immediate don’t vote for Hillary (or Trump depending on which way the discussion has headed), or they can tell where I’m headed and they start pussyfooting around. Regardless of how one tries to break it down, not voting for Hillary (or Trump) is a better choice than voting for Hillary (or Trump). At face value it’s obviously not true that a vote for a third party candidate, or just simply not voting at all, is the same exact thing as a vote for the “other” candidate.
Second: All of this assumes one is from either the Republic or Democratic parties. Many believers are neither. They could be libertarians, Independents, or maybe even Covenanters who disagree with the entire system. Why would they compromise themselves for someone simply because they are the two leading candidates?
Third: The result of voting for the “lesser of two evils” only expands the future boundaries toward “godlessness and liberalism.”** As Christians, during the last election period we were guided to vote for a pro-abortion Mormon just to prevent the worse evil of having Obama as president. Now, we are supposed to vote for a rude and impulsive man who has made fun of disabled people, who has financially supported liberals his entire career, who has been pro-abortion (even partial birth abortion) until he supposedly had an all of the sudden “aha” moment this year, who has bragged about his conquests with women, his infidelity, and who appears completely unrepentant of any of it, all in order to keep a worse evil, Hillary Clinton, out of office. Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying, I could very easily flip the switch and provide a list of Hillary’s notated “mishaps” and argue the other way as well. I merely chose Trump as my example as the attempt to force others to vote republican tend to come from within Christian circles and that was what this point was about, Christians promoting the “lesser of two evils.”
Fourth: It is ridiculous to blame someone for whichever nightmare of a candidate ends up in office when they actually opposed that candidate. No single candidate, nor their supporters or detractors, will have me violate my conscience in the voting process.
Fifth: When people place the blame for losing to Hillary on those who didn’t vote for Trump or Hillary it’s akin to the sore loser who blames the refs, weather, or some other outside factor every time they lose. “With this type of person it is never just that they weren’t good enough or that they didn’t do the right things to win. It is always someone else’s fault that they lost. The same holds true here. If the GOP is to win, they need to put forth a candidate who earns enough votes to win.”*** If he or she isn’t able to garner those votes on their own merit instead of on how terrible their opponent is, then he or she and those working their campaigns have no one to blame but themselves.
So I ask that during this election period, please don’t pass the blame on to others if your candidate loses. Don’t try and manipulate and guilt trip others. And for Pete’s sake, don’t say “if you didn’t vote for Trump you have no right to complain about Hillary winning.”**** Instead, take a good look at yourselves and your candidate and consider why it is you (your candidate) didn’t “win” my vote and what might possibly need to change in the future to make that happen.
My vote is mine to give, or not to give. Go ahead and vote for your candidate, but don’t try and force me to vote for your candidate. To refuse to vote, or to vote for a third party candidate, is not a vote “for” either of the two big party choices.
*Portions adapted from: “No, a Vote for a Third (or Abstaining from Voting) Is not the Same as a Vote for Hillary,” by Brandon Craig, 5-402916. “The Reformed Layman.”
Featured Image: Ladrillos by ismael villafranco; cc 2.0
This was a guest post from Dr. Jeff Hagan.
Jeff is an ordained Christian minister with over 23 years of ministry experience. He has attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Luther Rice Seminary, Tyndale Seminary and a handful of other institutes as well. He has earned several degrees including the Doctor of Christian Education and the Doctor of Theology.